Teaching Children about Memorial Day in an Age Appropriate Way

What do our children really know about why we celebrate Memorial Day?

They know in most of our homes that moms and dads get an extra “day off” on that Monday. Maybe, they’ve been to the barbecues or been a part of the crowd at the beach. They may have even eaten a themed American flag dessert or been to a parade. But how do we explain what this day is all about in a way that isn’t scary or sad for young children? How do we focus on teaching children about Memorial Day? 

When you google “why do we celebrate Memorial Day?” The answer that comes up is that it is a solemn day of remembrance for those who died serving in the armed forces. While I absolutely honor this I find it hard to explain to my children without opening up a greater discussion of death and mortality they are not ready for yet.

We have decided to focus our conversations about this day in the vein of appreciation for those who defend our freedom. This may be the case for you as well. If you decide to go this route I have a few ideas on how to honor this day in an age appropriate and proactive way and also focus on teaching children about Memorial Day.

  1. Check out some books that are age appropriate from the library. If you see a book on your library’s website that seems to have the message and information you want to get across it is easy to borrow that exact one. You can place a hold and have any book from surrounding libraries brought in for you for pick up at your closest library.
  2. Talk to relatives or family friends that have served and ask if they’d be willing to share some experiences with your children that are within the scope of what you’d like to teach. Make sure to talk to the adult privately first to discuss what’s off limits and what your message is.
  3. If your child has a friend who’s family is a military family have them put themselves in that child’s shoes. Remind your child how long their friend might not see a deployed parent, the birthdays and school events they miss and how they creatively communicate through FaceTime and email. This is a reminder that the whole family sacrifices so that the soldiers can “do their job”.
  4. Instead of talking about those who died focus on the freedoms we now have because they fought for it. Make of list of places they can visit. Activities they can do. Careers they can aspire to because others fought for them to have the freedom to choose these things.
  5. Be proactive in helping current soldiers. Write a letter or card to a soldier to send them thoughts and a smile. My family has done this and there a couple of military charities that gladly accept these. I’ll give the addresses below:

Operation Gratitude- you can send letters to troops, veterans, new recruits or first responders. Send to:

Operation Gratitude
ATTN letter writing program
21100 Lassen St.
Chatsworth, CA 91311-4278

You can also visit their website to send care packages at operationgratitude.com.

You can also visit amillionthanks.org, or mail to their address and they will pass along your cards or letters at:

A Million Thanks
17853 Santiago Blvd. #107-355
Villa Park, CA 92861

You can also consider donating as a family to The Wounded Warrior Project. Or, you could consider other charities that benefit soldiers past and present. Another option would be to set up a lemonade stand. You could do a fundraiser to raise donations for any veteran’s charity of your choice. Not only would it be a kind act that your children would remember but also feel proud of.

This day is about showing our appreciation. Appreciation for what we have and who helped and sacrificed to make it possible. Honoring those men and women by keeping their service remembered in the present and maybe in your own way saying thank you!

Janet RichardsonGuest Contributor Janet Richardson grew up in Indiana. She said goodbye to snow boots and hello to sandy toes when her family moved to Tampa Bay 3 years ago. Janet has been married for 8 years to her amazing British best friend and partner in crime. She is also blessed to be mom to an 8 year old philosopher and 6 year old diva. Janet is a crafting addict and CEO of the International house of Richardson (stay at home mom). She never met a beach, morning cup of coffee or Netflix mystery series she didn’t want to get to know better. Check out her blog Give Me the Details, where she blogs about details on everything big and small.